Question 1. Find two articles based on original empirical research from peer-reviewed journals. Your article should report quantitative research based on original, or secondary data analysis. You may find your articles using the library’s online subject resources page, or by choosing a journal from the list below (all of which may be accessed via UCD library).
Question 2. For each article, answer the following questions:
a. What sampling procedure is used, and do you think it is appropriate?
b. What are the main concepts measured in the study, and do you think the measures used are valid?
c. What methods were used to analyse the data?
d. Do you find the author’s conclusions convincing?
Question 3. Give each article’s full citation using the Harvard referencing system. List of suitable peer-reviewed academic journals:
American Sociological Review; American Journal of Sociology; Social Forces; European Sociological Review; Sociology; Irish Journal of Sociology; Sociology of Education; Gender and Society; Journal of Marriage and Family; Journal of European Social Policy; Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies; Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion; European Journal of Public Health; European Journal of Population; Work, Employment, and Society; Criminology and many more.
Please note that the guidelines below contain examples from peer-reviewed journals. You may not use the same articles like the ones used in the examples.
You can either enter the title of the journal in the library’s search engine and browse for articles within a specific journal: http://www.ucd.ie/library/ …or use databases such as Sociological Abstracts to search multiple journals by keyword: http://libguides.ucd.ie/sociology. Click the ‘Journal Articles and Databases’ link from the above page and scroll to the bottom to find links to journal databases.
Journals publish three main types of material depending on the type of journal: research articles, theory articles, and book reviews. Empirical research is research based on data analysis. For this assignment, you are required to find quantitative research – studies using survey data, census statistics, or national statistics for example. It will be obvious from scrolling through the various articles contained within a journal which ones are suitable. Articles based on empirical research will report details on the data used, some presentation of summary statistics perhaps, and will present data analysis and findings. A theoretical paper makes no reference to data and carries little data analysis.
Studies can use two kinds of data collection: new data can be collected by the authors themselves using survey instruments designed and administered themselves (original), or data can be taken from other previously published studies, from public records, census material, or international research agencies (secondary).
There are two ways to approach this: as a pair of separate single-article reviews, or an integrated review based on a single topic. If you find two articles based on separate topics, or using different approaches, it is fine to divide the assignment between two separate reviews, if each point is addressed in each section.
No, these are suggestions. Using the search facilities linked above, you can either search databases by keyword or search within specific journals. There are hundreds of subfields and journals, and it is fine to use any from across the social sciences if they are based on data analysis.
As discussed in week two, sampling is the process by which units are selected for inclusion in a study. It is the way we select people or places for inclusion in our research. A good sample is, in theory, a representative (all relevant groups are included, such as genders, ethnicities, class backgrounds), so we can generalise our findings from sample to population. It is not always possible to achieve a representative random sample. There are two main types of sampling – probability, and non-probability.
Although probability samples are most common and best suited for quantitative research, they are not always possible, so sometimes you will find non-probability samples used in quantitative research. You will usually find details of sampling procedure (sampling method, procedure, technique, refer to the same thing), in a section titled ‘Data and Methods’ in the article. The title of this section will vary from journal to journal, but will usually discuss the sampling procedure, and how data were collected.
Concepts are definitions of abstract sociological phenomena. Confusion usually arises here, because we use some terms interchangeably in the course. This is part of becoming a professional social researcher – learning the terminology. Abstract sociological phenomena are things like social class, social inequality, social capital, but also things that are more self-evident like gender, religion, or education.
Measures are the specific items we use to gather data on concepts. A measure of the concept of social class might involve asking people their occupation, or income. This would allow us to rank many different individuals on a scale from low-high social class (and there are many ways of doing this). Studies will often use multiple concepts in their research and analysis – such as education, globalisation, or inequality, for example. You don’t need to name and discuss all the concepts but try to identify two key ones.
In fig 2, the author is reporting a study on the impact of the informal economy, using country-level data. The informal economy is any work conducted, but not reported for tax reasons (off the books work). Validity exists when a measure captures what we intend it to, or when it adequately reflects the full meaning of the concept. In this case, we might question whether a more direct measure based on government data, or official estimates. Relying on businesses to estimate may also result in bias, since some may have an interest in over or under-reporting its extent.
Some methods of analysis will be complicated. You don’t need to understand exactly how the data were analysed, or what the results are reporting. The point of this assignment is reading and identification. Identify the methods used, and report how the authors analysed the data. Do you find the authors conclusions convincing? This will depend on your assessment of the previous points. Was the sample sound? Did they measure their concepts convincingly? Do the findings seem plausible?
This is a short assignment. Let the word count guide your level of detail – 750 words per article is not much.
This is not about getting things right, identifying the sample exactly, or naming it correctly. We want to see evidence that you can find research articles, that you can identify the various components of an article, and that you have made some attempt to engage with the course material and key ideas of the module so far. You will be rewarded for showing that you can identify the relevant sections and that you are attempting to understand the key terms and vocabulary of the module – sampling, measures, concepts, etc.
Use the Brightspace forum. Please do not ask me to check whether the material is suitable – this is the point of the assignment. It will take time to find suitable articles (it shouldn’t take too long), and you need to read them, perhaps multiple times, to become familiar with the layout and style of research reporting.